I want to tell you a story about something which happened our first week of tour—on the day we ventured into the deep bush of Central New Brunswick.
We were coming back from Doaktown, where we’d just played the Central New Brunswick Academy. It was a new school for us, and we’d driven three hours through the forest for a two-hour show… but oh, how it had been worth the sore limbs! In that cavernous gymnasium, we’d found an audience on hundred strong who asked us about our first roles as actors, the motivators behind bilingualism, the origins of our Figure de proue. Bref, ils nous avaient charmés, nous les avions charmés, et nous étions repartis avec la promesse de revenir l’an prochain.
We were keeping ourselves awake with games of Think Tank and discussions of second-language learning—when all of a sudden, with no exit ramp in sight, our lead white van pulled over onto the shoulder.
“Hey, they’re pulling over!” one of us said. Worried, we followed, leaving our little caravan of white, black, and brown sitting by the side of a forest which edged a river, around kilometre 375. We watched as Alex hopped out of the passenger side of the van and started to march towards an overpass about a hundred metres off. We scrambled out and went after him.
Once we’d caught up with him, Alex pointed ahead to the overpass and said, “That’s the Canaan River.” And we understood why we’d stopped.
La rivière Canaan où, il y a quelques semaines, alors que nous répétions pour la première fois, une inondation avait arraché le pont couvert de Cherryvale à ses amarres et l’avait emporté. Were were walking towards the covered bridge that floated down the river—or what was left of it, anyways.
We came to the lip of the bridge, Alex looking down at the water, searching. “Ça devrait être là,” dit-il. “Nous l’avons aperçu en passant…”
Les plus casse-cou d’entre nous ont vite dégringolé la pente rocailleuse pour s’approcher de la rivière. C’est près de la clôture que nous l’avons enfin vu, bloqué par un pilier du pont de l’autoroute. Excited, we called up to the rest of the troupe.
“Is it worth it?” Alex called back from the top of the rock, looking somewhat warily at the steep descent.
“You need to see this.”
So everyone clambered down a somewhat safer grass slope, with David and Luke acting as Alex’s Bergstöcke, to see the brdige we had included in our play look back up at us from the waters that had swept it there. A half-sunken, wooden reminder that art and life are so close, sometimes.
What an incredible thing, we thought as we looked out at the roof that kept above water while the current pushed past it. A reminder that our story wasn’t just a story; it was a way to tell the truth, to bring it to other people who might never see it otherwise. Just as we were witness to the bridge now, VILLAGES was a witness to the changes the world is going through—some of them bad, some of them good. And in witnessing and telling our stories, we build bridges between people, between communities, so that we can all live in this new world together. That school we’d just come from, for example, where we’d never been before: there was a connection now between us, something that could never be swept away by any flood. Something that would keep together now matter how high the water rises.
“Je crois,”, a dit Alex après un moment de silence, “qu’il faudrait faire une merde pour le pont, et pour la route que nous allons emprunter jusque chez nous.”
Et nous l’avons faite: une merde pour le pont couvert, en plein milieu de nulle part, sous le ciel du retour, pleine de gratitude et d’espoir pour les autres ponts que nous continuerons à bâtir.
We walked up the slope and into our cars to go back over the water, to our own rivers and flood plains. Back to our stories, our dinner, our home.